The EESC issues between 160 and 190 opinions and information reports a year.
It also organises several annual initiatives and events with a focus on civil society and citizens’ participation such as the Civil Society Prize, the Civil Society Days, the Your Europe, Your Say youth plenary and the ECI Day.
The EESC brings together representatives from all areas of organised civil society, who give their independent advice on EU policies and legislation. The EESC's 350 Members are organised into three groups: Employers, Workers and Various Interests.
The EESC has six sections, specialising in concrete topics of relevance to the citizens of the European Union, ranging from social to economic affairs, energy, environment, external relations or the internal market.
The EESC welcomes the European Commission's proposal for aligning reporting obligations in environmental policy and expects it to result in increased transparency of reports and their drafting, the provision of an empirical basis for gauging the efficacy of environmental policies, simplified procedures and a lesser administrative burden for both the Commission and the Member States.
The EESC fully supports the European Commission's new approach to environmental reporting, which is based on a root-and-branch modernising of procedures for data collection, reporting and subsequent environmental assessment using the INSPIRE and Copernicus systems, transmission of data in real time and their electronic processing. The EESC believes that the Commission's proposal complies with the better regulation approach and with the REFIT programme.
The EESC recommends that the central databases of the European Environment Agency (EEA) be used for linking data and information on the environment with geographical, economic and social data and for interpreting this in the round.
The EESC again urges the need to involve civil society organisations in the drafting and discussion of environmental reports in the Member States.
The EESC takes the view that adapting to changes in specific environmental reporting requirements works better than a rigidly unified, one-size-fits-all approach, provided the high quality of environmental data and reports is maintained.
The EESC is convinced that the updating of environmental reporting and the subsequent processing and assessment of environmental data will do a great deal to achieve the aims of the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (the Aarhus Convention).
The EESC calls on EU Member State governments, their authorities and agencies, the European Commission and the European Environment Agency to step up efforts to improve the accessibility, clarity and informative value of environmental reports and information for a broad range of civil society and its organisations in these matters.
The EESC recommends that the acquis regarding data acquisition, information and environmental reporting continue to be regularly evaluated and reviewed in the future, that the interval between the acquisition, processing and publication of data be reduced and that their accessibility, transparency and clarity be increased.
The EESC calls on environmental organisations to be more active in fostering public awareness of the environmental situation in their countries or regions. It urges the Commission to encourage and finance them in this.